Nobody would love to see Chris Nolan‘s Tenet (Warner Bros., 7.17) in a big, swanky theatre more than myself. But can someone explain what it means to “work overtime to ensure theaters can re-open and that movie exhibition business can come roaring back to life,” as IMAX honcho Richard Gelfond said earlier this week about Nolan? How does anyone “work” to make the pandemic go away?

By the way: In my mind Dunkirk is one of Nolan’s greatest films, right up there with Memento and The Dark Knight. I’ve never watched a 4K version of Dunkirk at home (and that in itself might tell you something) but it’s certainly gained upon reflection.

And yet after the curious plot gymnastics of Inception, the deliberately muddy sound design and infuriating storyline in Interstellar and the atrocious yellow and teal-tinted nostalgia version of 2001: A Space Odyssey that Nolan oversaw, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to feeling a very slight trepidation about Tenet.

Consider what the trailer might amount to if you take away the reversed action sequences and one-two punches like “what happened here?” and “it hasn’t happened yet”. Seriously, it feels like a kind of cinematic three-card monte.

And don’t forget that aside from being a moderately engaging, good-looking actor, John David Washington lacks that tingly, charismatic “it” factor. Nolan hired him because his BlacKkKlansman performance had generated a certain amount of heat, but remember that old remark about Marilyn Monroe‘s star quality, about how “you can’t take your eyes off her when she enters in a scene”? This is precisely what JDW doesn’t have.